Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Forget Nessie, Israel’s got a mermaid!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 13, 2009

And a Million Dollar Challenge to go with it! The other day I wondered how deep the well of human gullability is.  Today, I learn it was a bit deeper than I thought!

According to numerous eyewitnesses, the mythical sea creature looks like a cross between a little girl and a dolphin, and only comes out at sunset. “People are telling us they are sure they have seen the mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” said Natti Zilberman, a local council spokesman.

They’re independent of each other. Well that settles it! A creature out of a Hollywood cartoon must therefore really exist!

Whatever the truth of the tale, it has done wonders for the tourist economy.

Oh ABC when will you learn the abc’s or critical thinking? “Whatever the truth“? Here’s the trugh in simple terms: People are stupid! Period!

Local officials are now offering a cash prize of $1 million for the first tourist to take a photograph of the mermaid.

Heh, local officials are slick. They are guaranteed the price will never be collected and the extra tourist money won’t hurt either. I make a prediction:  Just like the JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge, this million dollar challenge will also go uncollected for a long, long, long…..long time!

Cryptozoology Pisses Me Off

Posted in SkepticBlog by Skepdude on May 14, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “SKEPTICBLOG”

And here’s why.

It pisses me off because it’s the perfect microcosm of what’s wrong with television science reporting. They’re not interested in reporting good science or in educating their viewers; they’re only interested in tabloid stories. And they affix a “science” label to them. Send some horseback kooks into the woods with a megaphone and an infrared camera to look for Bigfoot, show it on the Science Channel, and that’s what passes for science programming in the United States. The obvious result? We have a population who believes that communication with ghosts represents the leading edge of brain research, that multilevel marketing schemes are a way to get rich, and that a mail order gadget (suppressed by the oil companies) will make your car run for free.

I grew up obsessed with cryptozoology. I knew all the Bigfoot stories, I fully believed Nessie was a relic plesiosaur, I was convinced that Neanderthals survive in Russia. Having seen, as a young boy, the skeleton of the Megatherium that died falling into the Grand Canyon Caverns millennia ago, I was thrilled to learn that a “scientist” had discovered that they may still exist in the Amazon, based on local superstitions. I had no doubt. It seemed perfectly plausible and scientific.

That’s because I, at ten years old, had an understanding of the scientific method comparable to that of the cream of today’s cryptozoologists. My reading had taught me that you start with a conclusion (”Bigfoot exists”), support it with a logical fallacy (”Either it’s true or it’s a hoax of impossible proportions”), and you’re automatically right because nobody’s disproven it. This was absolutely convincing to a ten year old boy, and that’s good enough for the TV networks. What an easy sell! If your “science” broadcasting is effective, it must be good.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “SKEPTICBLOG”

Giant Fake snake monster photos

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 19, 2009

Via Benjamin Bradford over at LiveScinece.com we get these alleged photos of a giant snake monster in the Baleh river in Borneo. Judge for yourself.

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Looks ameteruishly fake to me and way bigger than the 100ft estimate, looks morelike 100 meters.

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This one looks even faker than the first one, I mean look at the “ripples” around its body, close to it’s head. Does that look anything like real water ripples? The color, the shape everything looks wrong. And Ben Radford makes a great point, if these people got close enough to take one snapshot, how is it that in both cases they only took one snapshot? Wouldn’t you expect the photographer to snap at least a few times? Suspicious indeed.

Final verdict- They’re obvious fakes. It’s interesting that people are still interested in lake/river monsters now a day though no?

Climbers find footprints of abominable snowman?

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 22, 2008

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Japanese climbers returning from a mountain in western Nepal said Tuesday they had found footprints they think belonged to the abominable snowman or Yeti.

“We saw three footprints which looked like that of human beings,” Kuniaki Yagihara, a member of the Yeti Project Japan, said in Kathmandu, after returning from the mountain with photographs of the footprints.

The climbers, equipped with long-lens cameras, video cameras and telescopes, said, however that they did not see or take any photographs of the creature.

The Yeti is said to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and is largely regarded by the scientific community as a mythical creature.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “REUTERS”

Mande Barung Bunk

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on October 14, 2008

Dipu Marak is referred to by the BBC in multiple articles as a “passionate yeti believer.” Recently Marak’s passionate belief was put to the test, and he passed (or failed, depending upon your perspective) with flying colors.

The mande barung is the local name for an alleged ape-like creature believed to inhabit the Garo hills in Meghalaya, India. It is the “Bigfoot” of the region. Incidentally, the “Yeti” is the name for such a mythical creature in Nepal.

Why is Dipu Marak a passionate believer? He says:

“We have so many reports of sightings that I sincerely believe there is some sort of huge creature in the Garo hills.”

He is committing the common fallacy of either limiting the number of hypotheses he is willing to consider, or prematurely dismissing some. Specifically he is failing to consider that many eyewitness reports can simply be wrong. There are many historical examples that prove this principle.

My favorite example is “The Great American Airship Mania of 1896-97″ which Robert E. Bartholomew documented so well. At the time there was the widespread belief that we were on the verge of inventing airships (heavier than air flying machines) – and so people starting seeing them. Their descriptions fit the quaint image of an airship, not the designs that eventually worked and took to the air.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

Monsters, Ghosts and Gods: Why We Believe

Posted in LiveScience by Skepdude on August 19, 2008

Monsters are everywhere these days, and belief in them is as strong as ever. What’s harder to believe is why so many people buy into hazy evidence, shady schemes and downright false reports that perpetuate myths that often have just one ultimate truth: They put money in the pockets of their purveyors.

The bottom line, according to several interviews with people who study these things: People want to believe, and most simply can’t help it.

“Many people quite simply just want to believe,” said Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University. “The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations.”

A related question: Does belief in the paranormal have anything to do with religious belief?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “LIVESCIENCE”.

What was the Montauk monster?

Posted in Uncategorized by Skepdude on August 5, 2008

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or spending all your time on Tet Zoo, you will almost certainly have heard about the ‘Montauk monster’, a mysterious carcass that (apparently) washed up on July 13th at Montauk, Long Island, New York. A good photo of the carcass, showing it in right lateral view and without any reference for scale, surfaced on July 30th and has been all over the internet. Given that I only recently devoted a week of posts to sea monsters, it’s only fitting that I cover this too. I’m pretty sure that I know what it is, and I’m pleased to see that many other people have come to the same conclusions, as demonstrated by the many informed comments that appeared at Cryptomundo and elsewhere last week. So, what is the Montauk monster?

Just a damn racoon. Read the rest of this entry at “Tetrapod Zoology”.